Gig/Concert: Massive Attack
Venue: Sound Academy, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Date: 7 May 2010
In One Word: Tempestuous
It was storming that Friday night when Massive Attack played the Sound Academy. As I waited for the bus to Polson Pier the rain was driving down out of the dark sky in aluminum sheets. A night of thunderstorms was fitting for the event. As I stood watching the stormy trip-hop duo perform their dark brand of down-tempo music, I couldn’t shake the feeling of being underwater.
The show began with a ringing of alarums, and then the band with Del Naja came on to a stage covered in smoke. I was interested to see how the duo was going to present their new material which features a guest artist on almost every track, and was delighted that the answer to this problem was bringing the guests on tour with them. Both Martina Topley-Bird (looking eerie and beautiful in eel-skin tights and a blue sequined dress) and Horace Andy made show-stealing appearances on stage, and one of the most applauded moments on stage was when Andy performed his previous classic with Massive Attack, “Angel”. Also present was a second guest female vocalist who I didn’t recognize.
G took to the stage around song 4 or 5 with a face looking like a thundercloud. Massive Attack, as well as being famous for being the first trip-hop band is famous for being the band that can’t stand to be in the same room as each other, and both G and Del Naja looked sour at moments. I didn’t have a great vantage point of the show, I got stuck by the doors closest to the stage and the crowd was too thick to get any closer. It was not the best place to watch the show, and I found the guest performances making a bigger impression with me than either Daddy G or band ringleader Del Naja. Seeing the live performance made me realize how important a role guests play in Massive Attack, who play a big part in making the band the success that they are.
It could’ve been the ardour of the voyage out to Polson Pier in such extreme weather, but from where I stood I couldn’t see much dancing going on. I guess the down-tempo grooves of MA are better suited for standing and quietly listening. Coupled with the lighting from the show, the overall feeling was of being at a party of wraiths and damned souls at the bottom of ocean.
© Natascha Malta, Music Vice